I’ve greatly enjoyed rewatching episodes of old sitcoms I used to watch religiously as a child over this Christmas season. I remember all those evenings spent in bed under a comfortable and warm blanket staring at my television laughing at the simplistic, timely and well-crafted humor. Although much of the subject matter has aged, the jokes still land, and the set-ups are still able to make me smile and laugh repeatedly. One thing that struck me now as an adult is that much of the humor and plotlines would never be seen today. They are laughably out of sync with what we would consider politically correct today. Gay jokes, the portrayal of women and the crude behavior of the male characters wouldn’t fly with the feminized and subservient to the politically correct dogma television programming decision makers we have today.
While our culture in many ways is more libertine and crude than that of the early and mid 90’s, the sense of freedom that can be seen in those old classics has been lost. In today’s hypersensitive environment, relationships between men and women are strained, as they were even before the MeToo movement came into force. You all remember watching movies from the 80’s with a teenaged male standing outside the window of his female crush blasting music from a boombox. Today, the portrayal of such behavior would invite several highly critical articles on Buzzfeed, Vox and other similar rags, deploring such male chauvinistic, sexist and predatory behavior. We would never hear the end about the film’s contribution to “toxic masculinity”.
This all fits into a wider pattern. The limitations on who and what can be presented at America’s campuses is another lost battle in the wider culture war. The great humor of the aforementioned sitcoms works on many levels. As a child I enjoyed the humor through my simple and limited child’s eye filter, and now as an adult I get the deeper meaning behind many of the jokes. The children of today are being deprived of such wholesome content thanks to the outrage of the sensitive snowflakes, determined and ideological leftists, and outrage porn addicted media people. When the harmless fantasy outlets of sitcoms, children’s programs and movies are sanitized and ideologically conforming to strict guidelines, something of importance is lost.
This loss of freedom isn’t limited to television and movies. I remember running around and playing in the woods in the days before the advent of cellphones and modern gadgets. “Go outside and play, dinner is at four” a mother could say to their child, secure in the knowledge that their child with the help of a simple wristwatch would return in time to fill their stomach. Nowadays, children are always reachable by their parents, not to mention trackable thanks to GPS enabled phones and tracking devices. The psyche of children suffers with this loss of freedom and independence. As a youngster, I knew that deep in the woods I was completely alone and responsible for my own safety. Teaching kids responsibility and how to handle risks and danger is a key part of adolescence.
I have to confess that I’m glad that my parents to this day don’t know the whole story. Like the one time I was playing down by the river under the bridge, and then felt into the river. I made up a convenient excuse for my wetness, something along the lines of being sprayed by a garden hose or something. Or those other times climbing up and down cliffs and steep rocky paths deep in the forest. The sense of adventure was great to young me, probably not so great for my parents’ peace of mind.
These are just a few examples on the changes that the typical childhood has undergone. This line of reasoning could be expanded by talking about the day care boom, the structuralizing of activities, the mind-numbing quality of modern cartoons compared to the classics of my day, and so on. The important point is that these changes have and continue to affect the personalities of youngsters today. Their views on parenting, politics, culture and so on are all being affected, with society paying the price.